Compensation and Student Employee Benefits

PhD Students

PhD Students at Columbia

PhD students are essential to the vibrant academic community across Columbia. To support their success, Columbia PhD candidates receive a robust compensation and benefits package for themselves and their dependents. This includes financial support, full tuition remission, affordable Columbia housing, health and dental coverage, and a limited child care subsidy during their fully funded years.

PhD students engage in fully-immersive academic programs that include their own scholarship as well as participation in teaching and research activities as student employees. PhD students are employed as appointed Student Officers of Instruction or Research during some or all of their funded years, depending on the design of their specific academic program.

Academic programs provide PhD students with either 12-month or 9-month support and a summer stipend in their funded years. Student officer appointments are also 12-month or 9-month terms. PhD students on 9-month appointments who are not on appointment during the summer receive a summer stipend and have no work obligation during this time. But they are expected to make progress in their academic pursuits.

Students pursuing PhDs in the humanities or social sciences in GSAS or in GSAPP, School of Social Work, SIPA, or Journalism, typically are appointed as student officers for 9-month terms. Students pursuing PhDs in the sciences in GSAS or in SEAS, Nursing, Business, or MSPH are usually on year-round student officer appointments.

Compensation and Stipend

  • Students not on Appointment
    • Minimum stipend support rates for PhD students not on appointment in the 2024-2025 Academic Year (i.e., receiving fellowship support without a service obligation) are currently:
      • $47,137 for those on a 12-month stipend.
      • $41,718 for those on a 9-month stipend (this total stipend includes a $35,353, nine-month stipend plus a $6,365 summer stipend in June 2025).
  • Students on Appointment
    • Minimum compensation rates for PhD students on appointment in the 2024-2025 Academic Year are currently:
      • $48,080 for those on 12-month appointments
      • $42,425 for those on 9-month appointments (total compensation includes a $36,060 nine-month compensation plus a $6,365 summer stipend in June 2025).
    • Annual Increases
      • Compensation and stipend support rates will increase at an annual rate of no less than 3% for the duration of the current contract, with raises taking effect at the beginning of each of the next three years.
      • Summer stipend increases: Summer stipends for eligible students will increase to $6,365 in 2025.

    Fees Waived

    For students in their funded years, the University covers the Facilities fee, Columbia Health & Related Services Fee, ISSO fee for international students, upgraded printing fee, and gym access fee
     

    Tuition Remission

    Full tuition remission (e.g., for a first-year PhD student, $55,184 for 2024-2025) for students in their funded years
     

    Guaranteed University Housing for Five Years

    Our housing benefit stands out among our peers by guaranteeing housing far beyond the first year. Doctoral students in the Arts and Sciences are eligible for five academic years of guaranteed student housing, beginning with their first semester and pending continuous enrollment and residency. Read more about housing and housing eligibility.

     

    Medical Coverage

    For all PhD students in their fully funded years and/or when on a fully-funded appointment, the University offers a comprehensive health-care plan with no premiums that also covers dependents. For more information and to enroll visit the Columbia Health website.

    Dental Benefits

    The University offers two dental plans for all PhD students and their dependents in their fully-funded years and/or when on a fully-funded appointment. The University covers a portion of the premiums for each of these plans for students who choose to enroll.

    • Emblem Dental Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) plan: The EmblemHealth Preferred Dental Program provides access to over 12,700 general dentists and specialists throughout the NY area. EmblemHealth's plan includes 100% paid-in-full in-network coverage for preventative dental services along with many other benefits. Please review the Emblem Dental Making the Most of Your Dental Plan brochure for more information. Note: ColumbiaDoctors Dentistry does not participate in this plan. Please review the list of participating dentists before enrolling.
      • Academic Year 2024-2025 Cost to Student:
        • $65.88 single coverage
        • $180.21family coverage
      • How to Enroll:
        • Send an email to [email protected] with your request to enroll. A Benefits Service Center Representative will then follow up with each student to complete the enrollment.
        • If you were enrolled in EmblemHealth dental last year and wish to re-enroll for the new academic year, no action is needed. Your enrollment will roll forward automatically.
        • If you were enrolled in EmblemHealth dental last year and wish to terminate coverage for the new academic year, send an email to [email protected] with your request to unenroll.
        • Open Enrollment for the Fall 2024 term will begin July 15, 2024 and end on September 30, 2024.
      • Student Account Charges:
        • Once enrolled, you will see a charge on your student account for the full amount of the cost for the plan in which you are enrolled ($263.52 for single coverage / $720.84 family coverage).
        • The University will cover 75% of this premium cost for all PhD students and their dependents in their fully-funded years and/or when on a fully-funded appointment. For the 2023-2024 academic year, the credit on your account will be $197.64 for single coverage or $540.63 for family coverage.
        • The balance after the credit is applied ($65.88 single coverage; $180.21 family coverage) is the cost to the student.
        • If you have questions regarding the credit on your account, please contact your Financial Aid Office.
    • Aetna Dental PPO Plan: Aetna Student Health offers a voluntary Dental Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) plan to Columbia University students and their eligible dependents. Please review the Columbia Health website for details, including the cost of the plan and the enrollment process.5Academic Year 2024-2024 Rates:
      • $427 student only
      • $453 spouse/partner only
      • $686 per child
      • Rates apply to each individual enrolled (e.g., the cost to enroll a student in coverage for themselves and coverage for a spouse/partner is $427+$453 before the University credit.)
      • How to Enroll:
      • Student Account Charges:
        • When you enroll in Aetna, you will be required to pay the full amount of the premium directly to Aetna.
        • Once enrolled, you may submit the receipt of payment to your Financial Aid Office to initiate a credit on your account to offset a portion of the premium.
        • For the 2024-2025 academic year, $197.64 will be the total credit on your account for student-only coverage; $540.63 will be the total credit on your account for family coverage (student coverage plus coverage for a spouse/partner and/or a child or children) regardless of the number of individuals enrolled.
        • If you have questions regarding the credit on your account, please contact your Financial Aid Office.

    Note: because the Aetna Student Dental Plan premium rates are higher than the EmblemHealth Preferred Dental Program premium rates, the cost to you of the Aetna Student Dental Plan will be higher than the Emblem Health plan, even after the credit is applied.

    Health Funds

    All student employees within the unit have access to two student employee support funds.

    • The Student Employee Support Fund reimburses out-of-pocket medical, dental, and vision expenses of student employees. For the 2024-2025 academic year, the fund will provide $400,000 in out-of-pocket reimbursements.
    • The Student Employee Dependent Support Fund reimburses out-of-pocket medical, dental, and vision expenses for dependents of student employees. For the 2024-2025 academic year, the fund will provide $225,000 starting August 15, 2024.
    • Details and an application are available on the Student Support Fund Page. Questions may be sent to [email protected].

    Child Care

    The University provides a limited annual child care subsidy for parents registered in a PhD program who are funding eligible of $5,500 effective August 1, 2024 for each child who is under the age of 6 and not yet attending kindergarten. If both parents are funding-eligible PhD students at the University, they each may apply individually for the child care subsidy.  

    Additional Benefits When on Appointment

    • Advance Requests: Salaried PhD students, DMAs, and MFA students who are instructors in the University Writing Program who are experiencing financial hardship and needing an advance on their Fall 2023 funding may request such an advance. Requests may be submitted starting on August 21, 2023 and through October 6, 2023 for any amount up to $3,000. Requests submitted will be reviewed and processed promptly, and funds will be disbursed in late August or early September. The specific disbursement timeline will depend on when the documentation submission is completed and the application is approved. The student will receive an email, confirming the expected date funds are expected to be credited to their bank account or check placed in the mail. Students who may apply for this advance will see a link to the application form when logged into their student account via SSOL. Please note that there are additional criteria and conditions in order to receive this advance:
      • You must submit a request for a specific amount, up to $3,000, via the dedicated application form in SSOL.
      • The amount of the advance will appear as a charge on your student account, which must be paid prior to registering for the Spring 2024 term. To ensure there is no delay in your registration, we recommend full payment or payment arrangements be finalized to later than November 13, 2023.
      • You must be enrolled in a PhD or DMA program, or enrolled in the MFA program and an instructor in the University Writing Program.
      • You must be registered for the Fall 2023 term.
      • Your student account balance must be $5,000 or less.
      • You are currently, or are expected to be, appointed as a salaried student officer during the fall term. Students who are on $0 salary appointments, or paid fully through the lump sum stipends at the start of the fall term (external awards, training grants, etc.) are not eligible unless specifically instructed by your financial aid office.
      • All applications are subject to review for compliance with the terms described above.
    • Transit/Parking Reimbursement Program (T/PRP): Student employees may participate in the University Transit/Parking Reimbursement Program (T/PRP) when they are working on salaried appointment. The T/PRP allows you to pay for commuting expenses with pre-tax dollars, deducted directly from your paycheck. See the Human Resources Transit/Parking Reimbursement Program website for more information, including how to enroll.
    • Voluntary Retirement Savings Program (VRSP): Student employees may participate in the VRSP when they are working on salaried appointment. The VRSP is a 403(b) retirement plan that lets you contribute from 1% to 80% of your eligible pay, on a pre-tax (deducted along with any other taxes) and/or Roth after-tax (deducted from take-home pay) basis, up to annual IRS limit. See the Human Resources Retirement -- Student Employees website for more information, including how to enroll.

    Master’s and Undergraduate Students

    Master's and Undergraduate Students at Columbia

    Compensation rates for master’s and undergraduate student employees on appointment or hired as student casuals performing research and instructional work were part of the labor agreement between the University and the Student Workers of Columbia-UAW (SWC-UAW) ratified in January 2022 and in effect until August 1, 2025. These rates also apply to non-PhD doctoral students and PhD students beyond their guaranteed years of support.

    Under the contract, for the 2024-25 academic year, compensation rates for these student appointments will increase by 3%. Minimum hourly compensation for student instructional or research casuals for the 2024-25 academic year is $22.50 as of August 1, 2024. 

    All student employees within the unit have access to two student employee support funds. These funds reimburse out-of-pocket medical, dental, and vision expenses for student employees and their eligible dependents.

    • The Student Employee Support Fund will cover $400,000 in out-of-pocket reimbursements for the year starting August 1, 2024.
       
    • The Student Employee Dependent Support Fund reimburses out-of-pocket medical, dental, and vision expenses for dependents of student employees. The fund will provide $225,000 for the year starting August 15, 2024.

    Details and an application are available on the Student Support Fund Page. Questions may be sent to [email protected].

      Student employees may participate in the University Transit/Parking Reimbursement Program (T/PRP).